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Tag Archives: Department of Work and Pensions

Can’t get about? Get a taxi, disability benefit claimant told

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A man who says his anxiety and agoraphobia mean he cannot get to unfamiliar places unaccompanied has had his disability benefit claim rejected – on the grounds he could always get a taxi. The Devon man was denied Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), a decision upheld by a tribunal which said:

“We found on the balance of probability that he would be able to use a taxi for example to get to an unfamiliar place and that therefore he would be able to get to a specified place with which he was unfamiliar without being accompanied by another person.”

In evidence to the Upper Tribunal, where the man, known as AB sought permission to appeal, a lawyer for the Department of Work and Pensions insisted “where a claimant is taken to a destination in a taxi the taxi driver, who is simply providing a paid-for transport service, cannot be said to accompany that claimant”.

An Upper Tribunal judge has now referred the case back to the First-tier Tribunal raising the question of whether “in such circumstances, such a journey could not be described as one made ‘without being accompanied by another person’ given the presence of a taxi driver”.

The issue may be crucial to interpreting one of the ESA tests used to qualify for financial support for those who are unable to work. Number 15(c) on a list set out in the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 says: “Is unable to get to a specified place with which the claimant is unfamiliar without being accompanied by another person.”  Read the rest of this entry

Bedroom tax circular HB U7/2013: Duncan Smith’s vindictive, money-wasting ploy

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Could the bedroom tax saga get more bizarre? Try this: The Government has issued a circular asking (or demanding, in somewhat hysterical terms) that local authorities “urgently” set aside any other priorities and send details of bedroom tax tribunal decisions to Iain Duncan Smith’s Department of Work and Pensions.

The strong implication is that Duncan Smith now has at his disposal a crack team of top government lawyers ready to swoop whenever judges come up with the wrong decisions on these cases – ie those allowing people to stay in their homes without benefit cuts for “spare bedrooms”.

The document, HB U7/2013, says:

“The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) may opt to join an appeal or in some cases will take appeals forward where LAs [Local Authorities] have chosen not to do this … LAs are therefore asked to notify DWP of all FtT [First-tier Tribunal] decisions relating to this subject regardless of whether the decision is overturned or whether you intend to appeal adverse decisions.”

This highlights a rather tricky legal issue for Duncan Smith – that nobody has any interest in the success of his mad policy except him. As the circular (order? demand?) notes, if the First-tier Tribunal hearing a bedroom tax case finds for the tenant “generally local authorities initiate appeals to the Upper Tribunal in HB cases”.

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